Rapids Rookies in the Hunt

Will Dillon Powers and DeShorn Brown be 2 candidates for Rookie of the Year?
by Greg Moss   |   Friday, July 19, 2013

Mile High Club – column on Colorado Rapids & the Denver area and Colorado soccer scenes.

With the Colorado Rapids’ identity in question after the end of 2012, and with so many personnel changes during the offseason, no one would have ever guessed that the rookies of the Rapids would be involved in the discussion for Rookie of the Year.

What is even more surprising, at least to me, is Dillon Powers has been mentioned more often than DeShorn Brown.

Looking at the impact of these 2 players for their team, both have been crucial to where the Rapids sit now – tied in 5th for a playoff seed in the Western Conference. Powers holds the midfield fighting for every ball, while Brown stretches the defense with his quick pace and a trigger-happy boot.

The Impact of DeShorn Brown

Through the last several seasons, spanning back into the days of Gary Smith, the Rapids have had issues scoring goals. Some of that were issues with personnel, some with formation and some just with fundamental play.

Before the arrival of Brown, Omar Cummings was the man with pace on top. He was a striker that worried defenders like Brown does now, but he was not a player who competed every minute of his time on the pitch. He often waited for the ball to be sent to him and then make plays with his legs. He was a player with breakaway speed and the ability to get behind the defense.

Brown was drafted to be a striking replacement for Cummings. Many aspects of his game are the same, especially his pace. Brown seems to be a player that has the ability to develop a wider variety of skill sets than that of Cummings, including the will to come back for the ball, and sometimes win it for a breakaway goal. If he is able to gain vision when he is on the drive, then he could be one of the most dangerous strikers in the MLS.

The 22-year-old Jamaican is a player that defenders have to account for. He cannot be left alone because the Rapids will send him a deep ball and opponents will find him in their defensive third before they can turn around. He doesn’t hold up players like Edson Buddle, he isn’t extremely accurate yet, but he will make a defense pay if given the chance. He is a player that is feared, and a player that is feared means that they are a threat, and when they are a threat, they have made an impact on their team.

He has 5 goals on the season, which is 1 less than Cummings had all of last year, and in only 1,380 minutes versus Cummings’ 2,000. Oh, did I mention he is a rookie? I’d say the Rapids did well to pick Brown up in the draft. He has most certainly made an impact for the Rapids and will only climb higher from here.

The Impact of Dillon Powers

Much has been said of the young box-to-box midfielder as of late surrounding a rookie of the year candidacy. The midfield has been a part of the field that the Rapids had trouble controlling. Through the efforts of Powers, much of that has been altered. He has helped gain control of the midfield causing the Rapids possession stat to increase dramatically. It doesn’t always help with them games, but it does hurt their opponent’s chances of winning.

He plays like he wants to win every match, like every player should. He plays with tenacity and fervor. As a rookie he has played almost 1,700 minutes, which means he’s seen the field more than most of the Rapids players.

He has 3 goals on the season, and has a shot like a bullet chasing Superman. He can take on some traffic, but is extremely good at finding space off of the ball and holding it up for others to do the same. He is able to play both offensive and defensive midfield positions and always seems to find the right place at the right time. If there’s a player who can help the Rapids make another cup run, it’s Powers.

Other Candidates

The No. 1 draft pick for the New England Revolution was Andrew Farrell, a converted defender for the Louisville Cardinals. He is a shutdown back who has speed, size and a seemingly high soccer IQ. He is able to drive the ball forward and has great vision to pass the ball accurately when he does so.

Defender DeAndre Yedlin for Seattle would be another top candidate for rookie of the year.

Colorado Leading Rookies

In comparison to the rest of the field, the 2 rookies in Powers and Brown undoubtedly hold the top 2 spots for candidacy. Other than Farrell, other rookies have either not made nearly as great of an impact, or haven’t hardly played at all. Players like Walker Zimmerman may have been able to throw his hat into the ring, but he hasn’t seen much playing time with Dallas (231 minutes).

Needless to say, no one could have predicted that the Rapids, who missed playoffs last year, would have 2 players in the top spots as rookies. If they can continue to grow with ceilings that can’t be seen, they could turn into very prolific players for the Rapids leading them to many good years in the far and distant future.

NEXT UP: July 20 – Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle. 4 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

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Concordia College
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Producer of "From the Pitch" with Marcelo Balboa and a personal Rapids podcast. All personality with a face for radio and profile pictures. Born a midwesterner, thankfully transformed into a Rocky Mtn dweller. Covering Colorado Rapids with words and voice